Police ID suspects in Eola video

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, June 3, 2015

NATCHEZ — At least 15 teenagers and young adults between the ages of 17 and 24 came to the Natchez Police Department Tuesday and provided statements as to their alleged involvement in breaking into, vandalizing and stealing items from the now-closed Eola Hotel.

The images captured by security cameras of the young adults in the Eola were published Tuesday in The Natchez Democrat.

Groups of young adults entered the Eola, apparently from its rooftop, about a half a dozen times during the month of May.

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NPD Detective Jerry Ford said his telephone did not stop ringing on Tuesday.

“I can’t even count all the calls we got,” Ford said.

Ford said police have secured the identities of every individual captured on the security cameras, which he said was about 20 people in all. Officers are in the process of contacting each.

However, many of the calls Ford received were from parents of the young adults.

“The parents have been very cooperative. They are disgusted by their child’s behavior and are willing to do whatever it takes to get this taken care of, including paying for damages,” Ford said.

He said the young adults who have given statements to date are from Monterey and Vidalia and Franklin County.

He said it started when one group of young adults made their way to the Eola roof and posted photos taken from atop the building on Facebook. Apparently other teens made their way to the Eola rooftop after the Facebook postings ,and eventually, a way to enter the building from the rooftop was discovered.

Ford said none of those who have made statements thus far has admitted to stealing the flat-screen TVs from some of the hotel’s rooms.

“They’ve said they just went into the hotel from the roof and were playing ghost games and things went overboard,” Ford said. “No one is admitting to taking anything yet, although some did admit to going into the rooms and tearing things off the walls.”

Johnny Daves, director of security at Magnolia Bluffs Casino, said no decision has been made about pressing charges against the perpetrators.

“We have asked the police to further investigate, and we’ll see what the kids have to say. We’re looking for who tore it up, who vandalized and who took items,” Daves said.

After the NPD’s investigation is complete, Daves said Magnolia Bluffs President Kevin Preston and Eola owner Robert Lubin, a Virginia attorney who is also an owner of Magnolia Bluffs, will make the decision on whether to press charges.

Kevin Preston, president of Magnolia Bluffs Casino, said the trespassers vandalized the building, ransacking a number of rooms. Some stole flat-screen televisions and other items.